Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Pittsburgh's Third Rail: Parking

I really have nothing to say on the main issues at hand in this piece: Pittsburgh Parking Perks which was in the Trib decrying some free/low cost parking perks for some city and county employees. But I do note an odd set of economic numbers thrown together. Note this paragraph:
Finance Director Scott Kunka said lower parking costs offset employees' "low"salaries. The average city worker makes $44,000 a year, according to city records. The estimated median household income in Pittsburgh was about $31,800 in 2006, according to U.S. Census figures.

I wonder why "low" is in parenthesesquotes? It's not that it is just a bit editorial, but does it make sense? Obviously, the implication is that $44k is high compared to everyone else as noted with the $31.8K number. But median income counts something pretty different from average wages. Lots of households in Pittsburgh have no wages whatsoever, but they still have income. You get lower median household income because median income lumps together the many households in the region on fixed income.. i.e. those on Social Security, even those on welfare or with no income at all with those who have one or more wage earners. So that comparison is apples and oranges if you are analyzing workers' wages.

That begs the question, is that quoted salary low relative to other wages in the region. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the average total compensation per job in Allegheny County region was $51,636 in 2005, so 3 years ago. Inflation alone will have pushed that up a bit since then. Actually if you look at wages just for Downtown workers, arguably the comparable group of who city workers in question are competing with for Downtown parking. the average payroll in 2005 for workers in area code 15219 was just over $60K. The bottom line: how much city workers earn compared to what their jobs are is just a tad bit harder to analyze than just throwing out a median household income number which is mostly non sequitur .

But there is even more parking news, it's like the energizer bunny of Pittsburgh politics. I see that there is additional news that new Pittsburgh city Councilor Pat Dowd is taking on the perennial deficit in the city's parking permit program. I won't comment, but I have in the past in excruciating detail that you just don't want me to repeat. See: Zen and the Politics of Parking in Pittsburgh if you can bear the blathering.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"low" is not in parentheses; it's in quotes. And no doubt the author would justify using quotes because he's directly quoting the use of the word "low" by Finance Director Scott Kunka.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008 11:37:00 AM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

note.. but funny how Professor Hansen says about the same thing, but there are no editorial marks added to her comments.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008 12:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Salary is only part of total compensation anyway (there is also health care and pension to compare). Furthermore, the article appears to imply that only higher-level government employees can get the permits, so you'd want to factor out the ineligible employees (whose compensation may be lower?).

Wednesday, April 02, 2008 12:45:00 PM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

all true and then some... If one were to compare top end of city pay scale with top end of private sector pay scale I suspect you will see some screwey numbers. What is the ratio of say the mayor's salary to that of a first year associate in a major law firm Downtown.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008 12:51:00 PM  

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